Thursday, 20 October 2011

Getting your pre-baby body back

A little while ago we had a guest blogger Andrew, who is a personal trainer and friend of mine who did a fantastic piece on staying fit and healthy during pregnancy, which I must add I am currently using to stay in shape for baby number 2. Andrew is based in Sydney and you can find   him at www.healthjigsaw.com - "helping you fit all the healthy lifestyle pieces together

Anyway Andrew is back with another great read for all us mummy's with;

Getting your pre-baby body back

I’m sure many of you have read about Miranda Kerr and other celebrities getting back to their “perfect” bodies in no time after giving birth.  There is no fixed time to begin exercising after pregnancy.  However, you should listen to your body and don’t feel pressured to exercise before you are ready.  Childbirth places considerable strain on your body, even if there were no complications throughout the pregnancy and the labour and delivery were relatively straightforward.
Once the baby is born, you’re thrown into a 24-hour cycle of feeding and caring for the baby while attempting to recover from childbirth.  Resting and bonding with your baby are more important than looking like a celebrity.  
If you were exercising regularly during your pregnancy, you may be able to return to exercise quicker.  Regular exercise after childbirth can help you return to your pre-pregnancy shape and gives you more energy to cope with the demands of new motherhood.  It is important that you check with your doctor before you start any post-natal exercise programme.  You may need more time than you think to heal especially if you had a caesarean section.  However, you should be able to start pelvic floor and gentle abdominal exercises as soon as you feel ready.

Pelvic Floor Exercises
The pelvic floor muscles support your bladder and bowel and can be weakened by childbirth.  The effect of a weakened pelvic floor is that you tend to leak urine especially when you jump, cough or sneeze.  However, for most people regular pelvic floor exercises can cure the problem.  These muscles may feel weak when you start the exercises but the more you do, the stronger the muscles will get.  It also has the added advantage of improving your love life later on.
·         To locate the pelvic floor muscles imagine you are busting to go to the loo and there is not a toilet in sight.  Or you are on a crowded train and you feel you are going to break wind.  These are the muscles you tighten to stop yourself leaking or breaking wind.
·         To practice pelvic floor exercises imagine that you need to stop yourself from going to the toilet, pull the muscles up and in.  Hold the position for between 5 and 10 seconds, then slowly release back.  Repeat 10 times and aim for 5 or 6 sets each day.
·         These exercises can be performed lying down, sitting or standing.  Try to breathe normally throughout the exercises.

Gentle Tummy Exercise
To accommodate for the growing baby, pregnancy can split or separate your abdominal muscles down the middle.  It is important to make sure your muscles have healed properly before you do any vigorous abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups.  In the meantime, you can tone and strengthen the deeper abdominal muscles (transversus abdominus). 
·         You can perform these exercises lying down, sitting, standing, or on your hands and knees.
·         Breathe out, and draw your belly button back towards your spine.  Your lower back shouldn’t flex or move.
·         Hold this position and breathe lightly.  Count to 10.
·         Relax, and repeat up to 10 times per set.
·         Do 10 sets, as many times per day as you can.

As your ligaments and joints will be loose for around three months following the birth, high impact exercises, vigorous stretching or sports that require rapid direction changes should be avoided.  Walking is probably one of the easiest and best form of exercise you can do to start with.
Unless your baby sleeps all day, you will probably find it hard to find both the time and energy for regular exercise.  Try accumulating the exercises throughout the day instead of doing an hour session straight.  So when you need to duck up to the local shops for milk or bread, walk your baby in the pram instead of using the car. 

Breastfeeding and Exercising
If you are breastfeeding, feeding your baby just before exercise is usually encouraged for a number of reasons:
·         Your breasts are full and heavy before a feed.
·         There are various anecdotal stories of babies refusing milk immediately after a workout.
·         It allows sufficient time for the quality of the breast milk to recover following the exercise.
·         Following the feed, the breasts may be more engorged and can be uncomfortable (or even painful) during a workout.

Be guided by your doctor as to what you can do and can’t do.  Start any exercise programme gradually, allowing yourself time to build up over a number of weeks.  Remember to wear an appropriate bra that offers good support and slow down or stop exercising if you feel breathless or light-headed.  Don’t expect too much too soon – give yourself a reasonable length of time, such as 9-12 months, to get back into pre-pregnancy shape.

Many thanks Andrew and I love how you have explained everything it is so easy to understand. If any of our lovely readers would like to read more from Andrew why not pop over to his Blog at www.healthjigsaw.com/blog

Deb x

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